A Group of women, with pamphlets in hands, stand waiting at the entrance of Fragrance Garden in Sector 36. Every morning walker is stopped and requested to vote for Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Jannat Jahan (Naina). Ensuring that the morning walkers are not disturbed, the campaigning takes place without the usual frills, like slogan shouting.
Jannat, now a councillor in the Municipal Corporation, is contesting her first Lok Sabha election. But her candidature was the first to be announced, and her party started preparations several months ago.
She is focusing on going from door to door and interacting with people. Her husband Haffiz Anwar-ul-Haq, party leaders and a group of friends are her support system in the battle.
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Waking up at 5.30 am, Jannat’s day starts with visiting a garden or the Sukhna Lake where she interacts with morning walkers. There are days when she starts the day with a padyatra in a colony or a village.
Jannat says that nothing can match interaction with people at a personal level. “I shake hands with every woman I meet during campaigning. It creates a connect with them which the male candidates cannot have. It leaves a lasting impact on the voters when a candidate meets each one of them. By next week, I will start holding public meetings. By then, I would have covered all areas,” she said.
After campaigning at the garden, Jannat heads home where a series of meetings are scheduled to make preparations for the rally of BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday. Then, it is time to head to the market in Sector 18 for reaching out to shopkeepers.
Accompanied by party workers carrying party flags, and amidst drum beats, Jannat goes to every shop where she greets the shopkeepers. Her supporters keep raising slogans, hailing her and lambasting the Congress. Having been a resident of Sector 18 before her marriage, Jannat knows most people here. She points out her favourite sweet shop and then stops for a quick kachori. Jannat has a fondness for sweets and roadside food.
After campaigning at the market, Jannat heads towards her election office in Sector 33 where some people have gathered to meet her. She hears them out, and appeals for votes. With the traditional voter base of the BSP being colonies and villages, the party is focusing more on these areas.
In the evenings, Jannat generally picks a village and colony where she goes door to door. The campaign in the evening is followed by a series of meetings with the party workers till late into the night. Being a mother of two small children, Jannat also tends to them and ensures that her house is in order.
Jannat says that she was born and brought up in Chandigarh and knows all the problems of the people. Attacking Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal, Jannat says that there is not much that has been done by him in the last 15 years.
“Traffic congestion has increased, but no steps have been taken to resolve it. The promises made by the Congress have not been fulfilled. The problem of lal dora continues, conditions of colonies have not improved and demands of industrialists and traders remain unfulfilled,” she says.